A Life Lived: Onnie Ensor was the classic example of a Christian wife and mother

Published 2:34 pm Tuesday, June 21, 2022

BY ROZELLA HARDIN
Editorial Director
rozella.hardin@elizabethton.com
“We were poor and didn’t know it because my mother made sure we were well-fed, had clothes to wear, and were truly loved,” said Debbie Heaton, one of four daughters of Onnie Jemema Ensor.
Onnie Ensor died June 4 at the age of 87.
What made Onnie Ensor a good mother? “First, she taught us about God and His love. When we were growing up, we went to church. It was a given that on Sunday morning we were going to church. My mother was a good Christian woman, who read her Bible every day. She not only read it, she lived it,” said Debbie. “We always had plenty to eat. We grew most of our food, and mother made our clothes. She could look at a dress in a catalog, and make her own pattern. She raised a garden every summer, and from it she gathered vegetables, which she cooked and canned,” shared Debbie.
Onnie enjoyed canning vegetables from her garden. “Dad would put out three gardens each summer, and would raise lots of potatoes and beans as well as other vegetables, which mother would preserve. Her homemade soup was the best. One of her best meals was soup beans, fried potatoes, kilt lettuce, and cornbread. It was a favorite of mine,” said Debbie.
Every Sunday she cooked dinner and even after her girls had grown up and married, she expected her family to be there for dinner — daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren. “The table was always full of food,” said Debbie.
Not only did Onnie keep house, cook, can and make clothes for her family, but she also worked outside the home. For many years she cooked at Hunter Elementary School, but before that she worked at the former chair factory and the old Coca-Cola plant.
“I know she had some difficult times, but she never complained, and she never let anything defeat her. My mother had a strong faith. She was a good mother, and a good disciplinarian. My sisters and I never doubted our mother’s love and that she wanted our best,” said Debbie.
She recalled her growing-up years and some of the holiday traditions began by her mother. “Halloween meant popcorn balls and mother’s homemade chocolate candy. Everybody loved her homemade candy. Christmas Eve, we had soup and grilled-cheese sandwiches. Easter Sunday, we would hide eggs in the front yard. When we had birthdays, mother made us a cake. We didn’t get store-bought cakes. They would never have measured up to her homemade cakes,” said Debbie.
In addition to cooking, Onnie also enjoyed enjoyed sewing and reading, and one of her favorite things to do was watching the Lady Vols play basketball. “She really got into the game,” said Debbie.
“She always made sure that I and my sisters went to church and to school. She wanted the best for us and we knew it. We never questioned as to the why of church and school,” Debbie added.
“Now as I look back and reflect on our growing-up years, even though we were poor by today’s standards, my sisters and I never wanted for anything. My mother was a wonderful example of a wife and mother, and was a good friend to many. She was faithful to her church. In our growing-up years we went to Dungan Chapel Baptist Church. Later, when she became older, Mother went to Hunter Memorial Baptist Church with us,” Debbie shared.
In addition to Debbie, Onnie was also mother to Sandra, Amy, and Audra, and had four grandchildren. Onnie was married to Aubrey Ensor, who preceded her in death.
Onnie spent her last days at Ivy Hall Nursing Home.
Onnie Ensor had no regrets at the end. She had given all that she had to being a good wife and mother, and she had lived her life for the Lord. God, church, and family — those were the important things in her life.

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